Independent Report Finds No Evidence that Interim CEO Sean King Knew of Former CEO George Hopkins’ Alleged Sexual Misconduct Toward Accuser Jessica Beyer
Sean King, who had been named Interim CEO of Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) days before allegations surfaced that he failed to report sexual misconduct of former CEO George Hopkins, has been cleared of all allegations according to the findings of a two-month independent investigation conducted by Chicago law firm Franczek Radelet and released today by YEA!, the parent organization of the world champion Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps from Allentown, PA.
King had been placed on leave by the YEA! new Board of Directors pending an investigation stemming from two Philadelphia Inquirer stories published in early April.
According to the Inquirer, nine women, including former Cadets and employees, accused former YEA! CEO George Hopkins of sexual misconduct. A follow-up piece reported that Jessica Beyer, a former YEA! employee, alleged that Hopkins “regularly made inappropriate comments at work, texted her seeking sex, and once raped her in his apartment.” The article stated that Beyer reported some of the misconduct to King, who was employed by YEA! in a supervisory role at the time.
Following the reports against Hopkins, the members of the YEA! Board of Directors resigned. The replacement Board of Directors then terminated Hopkins and placed King on leave pending investigation. YEA! hired Franczek Radelet, among the premier labor, employment and education practices in the country to conduct an investigation into complaints of sexual harassment, including Beyer’s allegations against King. Jennifer Smith, a partner in the Education Law Practice Group at the firm, led the investigation.
While a broader investigation of sexual misconduct is ongoing, Smith’s report specific to the Sean King investigation concluded the following:
“Contrary to the implication of initial media reports, no individual has alleged that King either received a complaint of sexual harassment or failed to take appropriate action in response to complaints regarding working conditions. Beyer did not notify King that she was alleging sexual harassment in 2008. No other individuals have come forward with allegations of wrongdoing against King after ample opportunity and invitation to do so. Accordingly, there is no allegation of wrongdoing by King and the information provided by Beyer confirms that the implication of wrongdoing in media reports is fully resolved in favor of King.”
Smith also noted that Beyer’s personal attorney was given an opportunity to refute the facts outlined in the final report. To date, no evidence contradicting the facts of the report has been submitted.
As a result, the YEA! board of directors of has lifted King’s suspension, and has asked him to remain on staff for the foreseeable future to assist in marketing and revenue-generating activities while the board of directors completes the selection process of a new, permanent Executive Director for YEA!
“During the investigation, ‘Sean King generally recalled Jessica Beyer reporting that working conditions were not great, and that he interpreted her concern to be with the same type of berating conduct that he experienced from Hopkins,’” stated YEA! Board Chair Doug Rutherford, “The reason Sean was suspended was entirely due to an allegation by Jessica that he was told of sexual harassment and failed to respond. The report concludes that he was not told of sexual harassment by her, and the Board voted to lift this suspension.”
In the report, Smith also recommended that YEA! provide all employees with training regarding how to respond to sexual harassment complaints and other complaints of violations of YEA!’s policies.
According to YEA! Board Chair Doug Rutherford, the organization has already conducted a comprehensive review of its records, with particular attention given to current complaints, as well as its practices, policies and procedures pertaining to sexual and workplace harassment. In early May, YEA! posted and distributed new Sexual Harassment Policy and Code of Conduct, which represent best practices for a non-profit organization in Pennsylvania. The organization also conducted training in May and June for YEA!, including employees, contractors, volunteers and corps members.